Afan Forest Park - Visitor Centre, near Port Talbot

Walking trails and world-class mountain biking

What's here

Some of the trails are diverted. Go to Closures and Diversions for more information.

 

Timber haulage is ongoing on the forest roads - please be aware and follow any instructions on site.

 

The car park, toilets and all visitor facilities at Afan Forest Park visitor centre are managed by Neath Port Talbot Council - see the Afan Forest Park website for the latest information about the visitor facilities.

 

Coronavirus update

 

Our sites and most visitor facilities are open.

 

We have changed the normal route for some of our trails to help you maintain social distancing – please follow signs on site.

 

Welcome

Afan Forest Park was created in the 1970s and has grown into one of Britain’s iconic mountain bike destinations.

Situated in a former coal mining valley a few miles from the M4, the forest park offers mountain bike trails for beginners to expert riders.

Most of our mountain bike trails start from the visitor centre car park but two trails may also be started from Rhyslyn car park and there are three additional trails from Glyncorrwg Mountain Bike Centre.

There are three walking trails from the visitor centre which range from a short level route along a former trackway to a strenuous seven mile walk along a ridgetop with panoramic views.

The visitor centre is managed by Neath Port Talbot Council and is home to the South Wales Miners’ Museum, a café and a bike shop.

Walking trails

The walking trails are waymarked from start to finish.

Look out for the information panel at the start of the trails.

Find out about walking trail grades.

Old Parish Road Walk

  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1¼ miles/2 kilometres
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Total climb: Mainly level

The Old Parish Road Walk follows part of the ancient trackway that was the main means of transport in the valley until it fell into disuse in 1920.

There are seats and tables along the way to enjoy the views.

The walk returns to the visitor centre on the former railway line (which is now part of the Afan Valley Cycleway/Sustrans Route 887).

River and Railway Walk

  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles/4.8 kilometres
  • Time: 1½ hours
  • Total climb: 300 feet/70 metres

The River and Railway Walk descends into the valley and crosses the River Afan before climbing steeply to the old railway line.

It passes a sealed railway tunnel entrance, which was designed and built by Brunel, and then returns to the visitor centre via a picnic area by the river.

Gyfylchi Ridgetop Trail

  • Grade: Strenuous
  • Distance: 7 miles/11.2 kilometres
  • Time: 3½ hours
  • Total climb: 800 feet/240 metres

The Gyfylchi Ridgetop Trail crosses the River Afan and climbs through woodlands to the hilltop.

there are panoramic views of the valley.

The trail then goes past two sets of ruins – Nant y Bar Farm and the 18th century Gyfylchi Chapel, once a shrine to Welsh Methodism – before it descends to the car park. 

Mountain bike trails

All our mountain bike trails are waymarked from start to finish and have been graded for difficulty.

At the start of the trail there is an information panel – please read this before setting off.

Rheilffordd Low Level Cycleway

This gentle trail follows the wide, flat route of an old railway track that once carried passengers and coal the length of the valley.

Over 14 miles of disused railway and forest road link the communities of Pontrhydyfen with Blaengwynfi and Glyncorrwg and it’s a great way to explore the Afan Valley.

Rookie Trail

  • Grade: Green (Easy)
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometres (with optional additional 2.4 kilometre blue-graded loop)
  • Climb: 158 metres
  • Time: 30 minutes – 2 hours

This green-graded trail is a fun, winding, and meandering trail.

It is a perfect introductory route for newcomers, with a wide trail and slightly sweeping declines.

There is a Skills Area on the trail which offers riders the opportunity to develop their technical riding abilities too.

The optional 2.4 kilometre blue-graded loop provides a taster for those wishing to progress; it drops down to the River Afan and exposes some secret spots.

Picnic areas can be found along the trail.

Blue Scar Trail

  • Grade: Blue (Moderate)
  • Distance: 7.1 kilometres
  • Time: 1-1½ hours
  • Climb: 177 metres

Fantastic trail to improve riding skills and develop confidence.

Penhydd Trail

  • Grade: Red (Difficult)
  • Distance: 14.4 kilometres
  • Time: 1½-3 hours
  • Climb: 353 metres

This classic South Wales trail is designed to be a progression to the more demanding Afan trails.

It climbs out from the visitor centre car park to give a stunning trail, mixing the old with the new.

Enjoy the combination of forest road climbs with some fantastic views, and flowing singletrack descents, plus some new steeper sections in the mix.

This trail can be demanding for less experienced riders and is exposed to bad weather on the higher ground.

Y Wal Trail

  • Grade: Red (Difficult)
  • Distance: 18.6 kilometres
  • Time: 1½-3 hours
  • Climb: 520 metres
  • Alternative starting point: Rhyslyn car park

Boasting some of the best singletrack descents in the UK, this trail traverses the north side of the Afan Valley on singletrack.

It varies from fast, open and flowing to tight, technical and rooty.

Great views of the valley and coastline open out at different points, and in places the steep-sided slopes can feel exposed.

The approach to the singletrack shares a section with the Rheilffordd Low Level Cycleway and the disused railway line, so please ride with consideration for the many other forest users.

 For a longer ride, combine with White’s Level Trail via one of the W2 links.

Other mountain bike facilities

Skills Area

The Skills Area, suitable for children and less experienced riders, is on the Rookie Trail.

Afan Bike Park

Afan Bike Park is an orange-graded (extreme) bike park at Gyfylchi near Y Wal Trail.

Afan Valley Bike Shed (bike shop)

Afan Valley Bike Shed is next to Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre.

For more information and opening times go to the Afan Valley Bike Shed website.

Sustrans cycle route

You can cycle to Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre on Sustrans National Cycle Network route 887.

Route 887 provides a link between the towns of Port Talbot, Cwmafan, and Pontrhydyfen and continues onto Afan Forest Park.

For more information go to the Sustrans website.​

Accessibility information

Facilities for visitors with disabilities at Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre include:

  • parking for Blue Badge holders
  • wheelchair access to the visitor centre and cafe
  • accessible toilets

Visitor facilities

The car park, toilets and all visitor facilities here are managed by Neath Port Talbot Council.

For more information and opening times go to the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre website.

Closures and diversions

  • Sometimes we need to close or divert trails for your safety whilst we undertake maintenance work or other operations.
  • We may have to close a site in extreme weather, such as high winds or snow and ice, due to the risk of injury to visitors or staff.
  • Please always follow any instructions on site and any temporary diversion signs.

Current closures and diversions

All trails: Please be aware of timber haulage lorries using the forest roads whilst harvesting operations are carried out.

Blade: The ‘Ghost Train’ section is permanently closed. Please follow waymarked diversions.

Blue Scar: Please slow down between berms on the ‘Mandrill’ section.

Penhydd: The 'Big Dipper' and 'Desolation' sections are closed due to harvesting operations. Please follow diversions in place.

Skyline: The 'South Pit' section is closed due to harvesting operations and a diversion is in place. Other diversions in place on ‘Short & Sweet’, ‘Riding High’, ‘On the Edge’ and ‘Coed Mog 1’ sections due imminent trail maintenance works.

W2: The boardwalk section of the W2 Black Run is closed for replacement. You may be asked to wait by a banksman on the Parson's Folly Upper Link due to harvesting operations.

White's Level: The boardwalk section (Goodwood) is closed for replacement.

Y Wal: The '373' and '374' sections are due to be closed for harvesting operations. A diversion will be in place along the forest road from 'Picadilly' along to 'Graveyard'.

How to get here

Location

Afan Forest Park is six miles from junction 40 of the M4.

It is in the county of Neath Port Talbot.

Ordnance Survey map

Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is on Ordnance Survey (OS) map 165 or 166.

The OS grid reference for the visitor centre is SS 820 950.

Directions

Exit M4 at junction 40 onto A4107 towards Cymer and follow the brown and white signs from the roundabout after leaving the motorway.

For satellite navigation, the postcode for Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre is SA13 3HG.

Public transport

The nearest mainline railway station is in Port Talbot.

For details of public transport go to the Traveline Cymru website.

Related document downloads

Rookie Trail guide PDF [1.1 MB]
Blue Scar Trail guide PDF [1.9 MB]
Penhydd Trail guide PDF [2.3 MB]
Y Wal Trail guide PDF [5.7 MB]

Other places in South West Wales